Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Flodpanter

Tasting with kids - Northern California

Posted by Flodpanter, Oct 21, 2011.

Ok. Dont get me wrong here. I dont allow my kids to drink. They are just 4 & 5. Im hoping for some winery suggestions on a planned famliy  tour of Northern California. We have a couple of days in Paso Robles, 4 days in Mendocino near Clear Lake, and 4 days in Sausalito.

It has been difficult finding advice as Im looking for kid friendly wineries. Anything like petting animals, caves, ponds, and of course family friendly wineries qualify. At the same time I want to visit quality wineries as I will have to pick out only a few to make sure the kids will not get bored.

Any experiences or ideas are greatly appreciated.


Reply by JonDerry, Oct 21, 2011.

I would pick wineries with outdoor tables.

From my experience, Honig in Napa and Ridge in the Santa Cruz mountains would be great.

I'll be in Paso myself in a couple weeks, but have never been before so can't help you there.

Santa Barbara, try Buttonwood Farm

Reply by outthere, Oct 22, 2011.

Big area to cover up here. Where in Mendocino County? Anderson Valley wineries would be the ones to hit but if you're closer to Lake County you could drop down in Sonoma County or Napa for a visit.

4 days in Sausalito doesn't make for much wine time unless you day trip north to Napa or Sonoma.

What time of year? That makes a huge difference.

Reply by nonnaJudi, Oct 22, 2011.

If you are going wine tasting in Sonoma area while in Sausalito, Cline winery is a good choice-- good wines and a great area for kids -- animals to see, a pond, lots of space and picnic area. 

Reply by napagirl68, Oct 25, 2011.

Hi there,  I live in the east bay area of San Fran, and taste all over the place.  My 7 yr old daughter has been with us on many a wine excursion due to the fact that we usually do not have bbsitting available, and take her with.  We did this even when she was 3-4 yrs old.  IMO, MOST, but not all, wineries in Paso, sonoma, anderson ARE kid friendly.  They tend to be the wineries that are more rustic, with outside seating, ponds, etc.  I am including this link:  to a Sunset article about kid friendly wineries.

The areas I have mentioned seem to be more laid back: even if it is just a tasting room, and the kids are bored, they are usually ok with that.  That said, I,personally, don't want to ruin others' experience if my kid is being whiney.  If that is the case, my husband will take her outside, I will taste, then we switch.  It has never been a problem for us.

That said, there ARE some fun, kid places to go:  Safari West  fun to visit while out in santa rosa area.  OR you could go HERE:  and let you little ones swim with one of you, while wine and food is served poolside.

My fav kid wineries, tho, are those that are rustic, have farm animals/dogs/creeks, and let them experience nature a bit.  I am unsure about Sausalito, as it is on the bay, and offers galleries, shopping, restaurants, and tasting rooms..   The best kid bet there is taking a ferry to Alcatraz or something. 

Paso, you should have no problem.  This is a very rural area, and tho there are tasting rooms "downtown", there are many actual winery properties to explore in the area.  I would map it, an stick to those.  I really don't think you will have an issue.

Same with Anderson.  Most of the wineries are very kid friendly, though they may not offer all the features you refer to.  Let me just say, it is a VERY laid back area... as is most of California.  I would say, that the area you would run into "kid resistance" with, in general, is Napa.  I would avoid that with kids, overall.  But there are a handful that are kid friendly.

Have a fabulous trip!!!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 25, 2011.

Coppola's new place in Sonoma is designed to be family friendly.  It even has a swimming pool! (The last weekend for swimming is coming up, so it depends on when you are going. A link is here.) In general, kids are not allowed in establishments that serve only alcohol in California, but any place that serves food alongside can host kids. J Winery just outside Healdsburg offers paired tastings, so kids can be present, I imagine. If you are up in Anderson Valley (which is NOT in Mendocino, but a trip inland), Navarro has a nice tasting room, and Husch used to be a very family oriented place.  If you get up to Dry Creek Valley, Preston has a picnic area, bakes bread, and makes olive oil and is so rustic you can't believe it.  At Bella in Dry Creek, my climbed trees, and it's very close to Preston.

In general, though, my kids find the whole idea of going with us when we winery-hop really boring, even though they have grown up around winemakers and winery operators.

Reply by napagirl68, Oct 25, 2011.

Yes, foxall, coppola is one I linked in my post before yours.  We took my daughter there when staying in Jenner and had a great time.  Reserving a cabana ahead of time is key tho.  Also, Husch is still family-oriented as well...  I loved Bella too! 

I think your kids are teens, Foxall, right?   In that case, yes, it would be boring.  But for a 4 -7 yr old, it can be fun!  My daughter loves chasing the chickens and riding the tire swing at Boa Ventura winery out here in Livermore.  Kinda like going to a park where the adults can drink some vino :-)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 25, 2011.

D'oh! Skimmed right past the link to Coppola!

My kids are actually right between that 4-7 range and the teens.  And they find wine booooring.  Probably just because Dad yammers on about it all the time.

Glad to hear Husch is still the same.  We used to stop at Navarro on the way into Comptche when I was living with someone who had family there, and at Husch on the way out.  I know a judge whose main residence is up by Elke's area and that area is supposed to be mellow, too. 

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